Thomas-Kilmann Leading Through Conflict



At Fine Points, we offer a complete portfolio of solutions rooted in The Leadership Challenge®, an evidence-based methodology for developing current and future leaders in organizations.  The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) helps individual leaders understand their behavior in conflict situations and its relationship to leadership, team dynamics, and those times when two people appear to be incompatible.


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Proven through 30 years of research and 7 million participants, the Thomas-Kilmann model is a highly effective catalyst for opening discussions on difficult issues and facilitating conflict resolution.  It has been proven to drive measurable business results in employee retention and collaboration at the personal, group, and organizational level.

  • Best-selling book, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, published in 10 languages.
  • Five Conflict Modes is a model of what leaders do when they respond to conflict situations.
  • Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is a self assessment tool, based on the Five Conflict Modes, that measures an individual’s behavior in conflict situations.


Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

Behavior during conflict is a result of both personal predispositions and the requirements of specific situations. Because no two individuals have exactly the same expectations and desires, conflict is a natural part of our interactions with others.  The TKI is designed to measure a person's behavior in conflict situations.

This important tool illuminates predispositions and behaviors that impact leaders’ ability to cultivate consensus and lead through change.  Fine Points helps leaders learn the most appropriate uses for each conflict-handling mode.


Five Conflict Modes

TKI Grid for WordPress



Conflict situations are those in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. In such situations, the TKI describes an individual's behavior along two dimensions: (1) Assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) Cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person's concerns.  These two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes for responding to conflict situations:





Mode 1 - Competing

Competing is assertive and uncooperative—an individual pursues his own concerns at the other person's expense. This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position—your ability to argue, your rank, or economic sanctions. Competing means "standing up for your rights," defending a position which you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

Mode 2 - Accommodating

Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person's order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another's point of view.

Mode 3 - Avoiding

Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative—the person neither pursues his own concerns nor those of the other individual. Thus he does not deal with the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.

Mode 4 - Collaborating

Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other's insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.

Mode 5 - Compromising

Compromising is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. It falls intermediate between competing and accommodating. Compromising gives up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. In some situations, compromising might mean splitting the difference between the two positions, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground solution.

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